Fostering social-connectedness through the arts

Top row (L-R): Mariam Koslay, Aisha Trambas, Amarachi Okorom Bottom row: Idil Ali, Nickila De Silva
On International Day of People of African Descent, we explore a project on creative arts and its impact on the African Diaspora in Melbourne’s west.
Thursday 31 August 2023

A new podcast is showcasing how people and communities shape places of creativity, empowerment, discovery, repair and develop connections to cultural identity and wellbeing.

The seven-part series Dynamics of Community, funded by VicHealth is built on a program of work which engages with people from the African diaspora in Melbourne.

Led by Professor Christopher Sonn, Associate Professor Matthew Klugman, Dr Samuel Keast and Dr Rama Agung-Igusti from Victoria University’s Community Identity Displacement Research Network (CIDRN) – the Future Reset project which includes the podcast aims to amplify voices of creatives and cultural workers.

The featured creatives convey the complexities of their lives, and the impacts of racialisation. They also speak of the ways they create spaces of joy, communality, and resistance.

Professor Sonn and Associate Professor Matthew Klugman speak to creatives from a range of different disciplines including the visual arts, writing, poetry and make-up artistry.

“The stories are amazing and we plan to explore in more detail how these leaders individually and collectively contest violence and create futures through what one of them described as the ‘care as an antidote to violence’,” Professor Sonn said.

Dr Keast said the podcast platform was a powerful way to humanise these stories.

“These are young creatives who want to tell their stories and want to create spaces for others to engage with their stories – podcasting offers listeners a way to experience them through the texture and tone of their voices, but also centres the creatives as the authors of those stories,” Dr Keast said.

Predominantly from the African diaspora the podcast also features a Wemba Wemba and Gunditjmara woman and a writer who is a second-generation Sri-Lankan-Malay immigrant.

“Our project is distinct – it is a community-led intervention to restore and foster social connectedness through arts and creativity informed by principles of equity, partnership and co-design, which are VicHealth’s pillars for Future Reset,” Professor Sonn explained. 

We have come to understand the important role of the university as a resource for them and other community groups, and it is through these deep engagements that we are building impactful research in which they are co-authors, co-researchers, knowers.

Click here to listen to the podcast episodes, Dynamics of Community.